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Legito PowerUp2022: Panel Discussion – Automation and Innovation for Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments

Legito PowerUp2022: Panel Discussion – Automation and Innovation for Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments

This panel discussion featured insights from Paul Handal (Head of Legal Tech at a large law firm), Filip Ivanov (a consultant helping organisations to implement legal tech), Teodora Bobcheva (general counsel in a corporate legal team) and Jarmila Hanzalova (head of knowledge management at a law firm).

This contribution from one of the panel members perhaps explains why some organisations often live with sub-optimal results without searching for a solution: too many people assume things cannot be made better because the common experience is that some legal procedures aways seem to take an onerous route.
It took the outside stimulus and experience of a consultant to demonstrate the effectiveness of using a solution like Legito.

Jarmila’s law firm reported a more unusual route to deploying Legito: they began with client-facing projects and then decided they should use Legito internally to augment the law firms internal processes.

 

 

Teodora commented on the benefits of deploying Legito (from her perspective within a corporate legal team):

  • Reduced cycle times to create documents (reduced to 1/5th of the previous drafting time)
  • Living without the annoyance of errors and formatting glitches in documents
  • Total control over the document content, but also the workflow and the customer journey when interacting with documents
  • Using insight from the solution to identify opportunities to make improvements to process and content
  • Using timeline data to understand where delays arise
  • Automating risk scores to assist management when making approval decisions

Paul (who also lectures on legal tech) observed that using Legito to digitise each step of a process inevitably made it easier to automate each successive step – the benefits accumulate as you move through a process.

 

The panel also discussed tips for successful deployments:

  • Be patient – don’t try to automate everything in the first stage. Be strategic about how you expand the initial project. This will promote consistency and optimise the re-use of data across the organisation.
  • Understand the logic of the content of a document, but also think about the customer’s experience of using the document. Take advantage of the tools to give customers tips and guidance to help them navigate their way through a task.
  • Use change management. A good change management project should include exec sponsorship and good communications, remembering to tell people about the benefits of the project.

 

Teodora added two poignant observations about using Legito:

  • Legito allows a corporate legal team to provide a self service tool, but it was important for the legal team to have confidence knowing that the tool would avoid risks and mistakes.
  • Using Legito “…creates a data driven culture…” which helps to move an organisation away from legacy ways of doing business.

 

 

We thank the contributors for their time and insights.

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Legito PowerUp 2022: Success Story – CLM & Document Automation in a Large Law Firm

Legito PowerUp 2022: Success Story – CLM & Document Automation in a Large Law Firm

If we are tempted to assume there is one solution to a problem, get fresh ideas by looking at the problem through the eyes of another culture, another country, or another continent.

Mauricio Jaramillo presented a case study from the largest law firm in Colombia, Gomez-Pinzon. Here’s a deliberate summary of a few sections from Mauricio’s presentation that are not what we usually hear from law firm case studies.

Mauricio described the core challenge like this: how do you persuade the partners of a successful law firm to embark on a digital transformation project to change legal services that had been working successfully for 30+ years? Gomez-Pinzon acknowledged that they did not merely intend to change the way they created documents – they were going to redesign legal practice.

Before deciding the projects to deliver digital transformation, Gomez-Pinzon started by changing how people would respond and adapt. It helped that their organisation attracted young legal professionals keen to build their careers using new technologies. Gomez-Pinzon spent time thinking about how to get people to change the way they thought about their work. Mauricio believed the success of digital transformation would depend on how people embraced it. After they got their colleagues behind the project, they could leave them to continue to build on each new technical innovation so that it did not stall after one project.

Gomez-Pinzon kicked off their document automation strategy with a remarkable project: Mauricio observed that auditors regularly ask law firms to report on legal matters for use in clients’ audits. When he explained the cumbersome procedures for responding to audit requests, the problem was visible, and it raises the question, why has nobody found a better way to handle it? It’s an ideal starting project: it solves a problem that is a recurring administrative nuisance that must be done correctly, and it’s a problem that vexed every team in the organisation. Get that right (and they did), and you open the door to enterprise-wide adoption of the technology for multiple teams.

Having successfully built a solution for audit reports, Mauricio described how Gomez-Pinzon moved to another solution that lawyers will recognise: they automated the production of due-diligence reports. If you’re a lawyer, you will know that DD reports are a joyless but important task in every corporate deal. If you’re not a lawyer, the interesting thing about automating DD reports is that they are not ‘standard’ – an automation solution has to span many variables because the reports cannot be over-simplified.

We thank Mauricio for travelling to Prague to share his experience. They started thinking about people. They built a solution that automated a task that was tedious for people, but a task that must be done correctly. That’s how they began a successful digital transformation.

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Charles Drayson

Charles Drayson

Legito's Chief Community Officer

After a few years of working for a prominent London law firm, I started to get comfortable in my practice area, and I stopped feeling like every project demanded knowledge I didn’t have. And then something happened: I travelled overseas to work on a legal project in the middle east.

I started to work in the same way I worked in London – and it didn’t go too well.
I remember a senior lawyer in a local firm making arguments I had not heard before, and using negotiations in a style I had not experienced. I annoyed my counterparts by trying to do things the way they were done in London, and made no progress until I let go my narrow outlook.

In the years that followed, I was fortunate to work in multiple countries and to spend long periods in some of them. I started to enjoy the experience of different business cultures and legal traditions while observing that we share many of the same challenges.

Legito PowerUp 2022: Success Story – CLM & Document Automation in a Large Law Firm

If we are tempted to assume there is one solution to a problem, get fresh ideas by looking at the problem through the eyes of another culture, another country, or another continent.

Mauricio Jaramillo presented a case study from the largest law firm in Colombia, Gomez-Pinzon. Here’s a deliberate summary of a few sections from Mauricio’s presentation that are not what we usually hear from law firm case studies.

Mauricio described the core challenge like this: how do you persuade the partners of a successful law firm to embark on a digital transformation project to change legal services that had been working successfully for 30+ years? Gomez-Pinzon acknowledged that they did not merely intend to change the way they created documents – they were going to redesign legal practice.

Before deciding the projects to deliver digital transformation, Gomez-Pinzon started by changing how people would respond and adapt. It helped that their organisation attracted young legal professionals keen to build their careers using new technologies. Gomez-Pinzon spent time thinking about how to get people to change the way they thought about their work. Mauricio believed the success of digital transformation would depend on how people embraced it. After they got their colleagues behind the project, they could leave them to continue to build on each new technical innovation so that it did not stall after one project.

Gomez-Pinzon kicked off their document automation strategy with a remarkable project: Mauricio observed that auditors regularly ask law firms to report on legal matters for use in clients’ audits. When he explained the cumbersome procedures for responding to audit requests, the problem was visible, and it raises the question, why has nobody found a better way to handle it? It’s an ideal starting project: it solves a problem that is a recurring administrative nuisance that must be done correctly, and it’s a problem that vexed every team in the organisation. Get that right (and they did), and you open the door to enterprise-wide adoption of the technology for multiple teams.

Having successfully built a solution for audit reports, Mauricio described how Gomez-Pinzon moved to another solution that lawyers will recognise: they automated the production of due-diligence reports. If you’re a lawyer, you will know that DD reports are a joyless but important task in every corporate deal. If you’re not a lawyer, the interesting thing about automating DD reports is that they are not ‘standard’ – an automation solution has to span many variables because the reports cannot be over-simplified.

We thank Mauricio for travelling to Prague to share his experience. They started thinking about people. They built a solution that automated a task that was tedious for people, but a task that must be done correctly. That’s how they began a successful digital transformation.

FULL RECORDING NOW AVAILABLE

Charles Drayson

Charles Drayson

Legito's Chief Community Officer

After a few years of working for a prominent London law firm, I started to get comfortable in my practice area, and I stopped feeling like every project demanded knowledge I didn’t have. And then something happened: I travelled overseas to work on a legal project in the middle east.

I started to work in the same way I worked in London – and it didn’t go too well.
I remember a senior lawyer in a local firm making arguments I had not heard before, and using negotiations in a style I had not experienced. I annoyed my counterparts by trying to do things the way they were done in London, and made no progress until I let go my narrow outlook.

In the years that followed, I was fortunate to work in multiple countries and to spend long periods in some of them. I started to enjoy the experience of different business cultures and legal traditions while observing that we share many of the same challenges.

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Contracts and leverage

Contracts and leverage

Contracts and leverage

Mar 30 · 2 min read

Charles Drayson

Mar 30 · 2 min read

Leverage allows a small force to move a big obstacle.

Organisations need leverage to grow, and so do people. Like it or not, some organisations use contracts to exert leverage. If you’re a smaller organisation trading with a Fortune 100 company, you probably don’t like it.

The child’s seesaw is a graphic often used to portray power between two organisations because it’s a visual representation of leverage.

The SME has to work pretty hard to balance the seesaw when faced with the typical contract demands of a big corporate. But, notice something else: this image shows the seesaw evenly balanced, but did you ever try to keep a seesaw in perfect balance? It’s hard. Each side is up or down – it’s unlikely that it stayed evenly balanced or stationery at some odd angle.

If you’re not careful, that’s how it is with contracts too.

Ideally, the legal teams in big corporates would stop sending out heavy contracts.
That’s not happening any time soon
.

Until that day comes, how do you get leverage in contract negotiations?

Exploit the generality of Big Corp’s standard contracts. Those contracts they issued were drafted by lawyers who knew nothing about your deal, your product, or the business need. They are necessarily generic and high-level. You have two opportunities:

  • Create your own contracts that are tightly aligned to what you do, and take the time to tailor them for each deal. Make them sensible (not just a list of disclaimers). Make it obvious that your contract is much better for both parties. If it’s not obvious, ask questions that expose the gaps.
  • Create modular contracts with modules that follow the rule above, and then you’ve got a good chance of adding the modules as schedules to the Big Corp standard document. In other words, let Bog Corp have their fun, but use your contracts to add the detail and colour to create some balance.

Make an effort to observe market norms. Feel free to ignore outdated and badly regarded market norms – like archaic language, or lengthy redundant text added by lawyers lacking confidence to know what’s important. Recognise the market norms that speak to your industry’s custom and practice, and the application of regulations and compliance that prevail in many sectors. If your contracts don’t look like they belong in your market, don’t be surprised if Big Corp insists on using a contract that does. Get some leverage by using contracts that meet expectations.

Stay up to date with changes. Legislation changes. Use your agility to stay up to date, and look credible. Big Corp might be slower. Expose the gaps to get some leverage.

Of course, Big Corp legal teams are free to use the same techniques, and then maybe contracts will be less hard work for everyone.

Leverage allows a small force to move a big obstacle.

Organisations need leverage to grow, and so do people. Like it or not, some organisations use contracts to exert leverage. If you’re a smaller organisation trading with a Fortune 100 company, you probably don’t like it.

The child’s seesaw is a graphic often used to portray power between two organisations because it’s a visual representation of leverage.

The SME has to work pretty hard to balance the seesaw when faced with the typical contract demands of a big corporate. But, notice something else: this image shows the seesaw evenly balanced, but did you ever try to keep a seesaw in perfect balance? It’s hard. Each side is up or down – it’s unlikely that it stayed evenly balanced or stationery at some odd angle.

If you’re not careful, that’s how it is with contracts too.

Ideally, the legal teams in big corporates would stop sending out heavy contracts.
That’s not happening any time soon
.

Until that day comes, how do you get leverage in contract negotiations?

Exploit the generality of Big Corp’s standard contracts. Those contracts they issued were drafted by lawyers who knew nothing about your deal, your product, or the business need. They are necessarily generic and high-level. You have two opportunities:

  • Create your own contracts that are tightly aligned to what you do, and take the time to tailor them for each deal. Make them sensible (not just a list of disclaimers). Make it obvious that your contract is much better for both parties. If it’s not obvious, ask questions that expose the gaps.
  • Create modular contracts with modules that follow the rule above, and then you’ve got a good chance of adding the modules as schedules to the Big Corp standard document. In other words, let Bog Corp have their fun, but use your contracts to add the detail and colour to create some balance.

Make an effort to observe market norms. Feel free to ignore outdated and badly regarded market norms – like archaic language, or lengthy redundant text added by lawyers lacking confidence to know what’s important. Recognise the market norms that speak to your industry’s custom and practice, and the application of regulations and compliance that prevail in many sectors. If your contracts don’t look like they belong in your market, don’t be surprised if Big Corp insists on using a contract that does. Get some leverage by using contracts that meet expectations.

Stay up to date with changes. Legislation changes. Use your agility to stay up to date, and look credible. Big Corp might be slower. Expose the gaps to get some leverage.

Of course, Big Corp legal teams are free to use the same techniques, and then maybe contracts will be less hard work for everyone.

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6 Tips and opportunities for new lawyers

6 Tips and opportunities for new lawyers

6 Tips and opportunities for new lawyers

Qualifying as a lawyer is a tough gig. University and law school courses create a legacy of student debt, and good organizations have stiff competition for employment. When you land your first position, there’s pressure to make a good impression while also moving from academic study to practical application. Before long, you start thinking about how you’re going to progress through the career stages of a typical lawyer, maybe becoming a partner in a law firm of the Chief Legal Officer in the industry.
Beyond the usual advice to work hard and adopt a life-long learning habit, there are things you can do to thrive without sacrificing your quality of life.

1. Find a niche.

With a few exceptions, life doesn’t favor generalist lawyers. Try a few things to see what suits you before committing to an area of expertise, but then go deep on a narrow field. Deep expertise is scarce, respected, and valued. When you go deep, your peers are less like competitors and more like collaborators. A commitment to depth makes you less likely to be caught in the race to the bottom. Routine work creates pressure on fees, unreasonable timescales, and a median quality that is merely adequate.

2. Do work for clients that care.

This applies to law firms and corporate legal teams. Seek out clients who value legal input, who would miss your work if they couldn’t access it. They exist in all areas of law. Do your utmost for such clients because they will recognize your efforts (even if you are less experienced), and they will seek you out next time. Winning work from clients who care means more time on your vocation and less time on more tedious methods of rain-making.

3. Innovate.

You can innovate even if you work for an organization that is slow to innovate (it will be more impactful). Don’t disregard the market norms and disrupt for the sake of it – that’s disrespectful, and you might break more than you fix. Notice and then understand why things are done, and then look for incremental ways to achieve the same or better results in other ways. You will stand out as a person who can think independently (better still, interdependently). Borrow ideas. Often, the lawyer ‘on the other side will be a source of new ideas, particularly in cross-border work.

4. Seek out the best tools.

Artisans do not use mediocre tools, and they invest effort in learning the best techniques of using the tools at their disposal. Experts read the manuals to discover the features that are not obvious. Experts are not threatened by advances in technology – they use it to expand their results. Leading practitioners don’t wait for their organization to send them on a training course – they do their own research and invest in their skills.

5. Look for new developments.

A new lawyer in an organization primarily staffed with more experienced people will be at some disadvantage. New developments give you a chance to circumvent limited experience. In a new field of law, everybody is learning on the job. New fields of law are infrequent, but technology changes are not. Become an early adopter, especially if more experienced colleagues are too stretched. Many new solutions make it easy for individuals to take a free trial. You might have to use your home PC and dummy data to try something new – don’t breach your organization’s information security.

6. Combine a complementary skill.

Combining your legal training with another skill gives you an edge. Lawyers with coding experience have had a good run recently, but becoming proficient in coding is a non-trivial task. Some practitioners have added value in organizations where Legito is deployed, by learning how to deploy technology in quick-win projects that work in the real world. If one looks at the LegalTech space, it has provided interesting opportunities for lawyers. The intersection between law and technology will be fertile and exciting for the foreseeable future.

 

Written by Charles Drayson

Qualifying as a lawyer is a tough gig. University and law school courses create a legacy of student debt, and good organizations have stiff competition for employment. When you land your first position, there’s pressure to make a good impression while also moving from academic study to practical application. Before long, you start thinking about how you’re going to progress through the career stages of a typical lawyer, maybe becoming a partner in a law firm of the Chief Legal Officer in the industry.
Beyond the usual advice to work hard and adopt a life-long learning habit, there are things you can do to thrive without sacrificing your quality of life.

1. Find a niche.

With a few exceptions, life doesn’t favor generalist lawyers. Try a few things to see what suits you before committing to an area of expertise, but then go deep on a narrow field. Deep expertise is scarce, respected, and valued. When you go deep, your peers are less like competitors and more like collaborators. A commitment to depth makes you less likely to be caught in the race to the bottom. Routine work creates pressure on fees, unreasonable timescales, and a median quality that is merely adequate.

2. Do work for clients that care.

This applies to law firms and corporate legal teams. Seek out clients who value legal input, who would miss your work if they couldn’t access it. They exist in all areas of law. Do your utmost for such clients because they will recognize your efforts (even if you are less experienced), and they will seek you out next time. Winning work from clients who care means more time on your vocation and less time on more tedious methods of rain-making.

3. Innovate.

You can innovate even if you work for an organization that is slow to innovate (it will be more impactful). Don’t disregard the market norms and disrupt for the sake of it – that’s disrespectful, and you might break more than you fix. Notice and then understand why things are done, and then look for incremental ways to achieve the same or better results in other ways. You will stand out as a person who can think independently (better still, interdependently). Borrow ideas. Often, the lawyer ‘on the other side will be a source of new ideas, particularly in cross-border work.

4. Seek out the best tools.

Artisans do not use mediocre tools, and they invest effort in learning the best techniques of using the tools at their disposal. Experts read the manuals to discover the features that are not obvious. Experts are not threatened by advances in technology – they use it to expand their results. Leading practitioners don’t wait for their organization to send them on a training course – they do their own research and invest in their skills.

5. Look for new developments.

A new lawyer in an organization primarily staffed with more experienced people will be at some disadvantage. New developments give you a chance to circumvent limited experience. In a new field of law, everybody is learning on the job. New fields of law are infrequent, but technology changes are not. Become an early adopter, especially if more experienced colleagues are too stretched. Many new solutions make it easy for individuals to take a free trial. You might have to use your home PC and dummy data to try something new – don’t breach your organization’s information security.

6. Combine a complementary skill.

Combining your legal training with another skill gives you an edge. Lawyers with coding experience have had a good run recently, but becoming proficient in coding is a non-trivial task. Some practitioners have added value in organizations where Legito is deployed, by learning how to deploy technology in quick-win projects that work in the real world. If one looks at the LegalTech space, it has provided interesting opportunities for lawyers. The intersection between law and technology will be fertile and exciting for the foreseeable future.

 

Written by Charles Drayson

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